The original name of Guangzhou was Chu Ting. In 214 BC, Emperor Qin Shihuang unified Lingnan and set up the Nanhai Eparchy. The Administration office was based in Panyu, so Guangzhou was called Panyu at that time. Until the year 226 AD, to strengthen his rule, Sun Quan divided Jiaozhou into two parts: Jiaozhou and Guangzhou. The administration office was then based in Guangxin (today's Wuzhou of Guangxi province and Fengkai county of Guangdong Province), so the name of Guangzhou took the part Guang from Guangxin. After the division of Jiaozhou and Guangzhou, the administration office of Guangzhou moved to Panyu and the name Guangzhou appeared. Until the establishment of City Hall in 1921, Guangzhou became the name of the present city.

Since flowers here blossom all year round, Guangzhou is called City of Flowers. Guangzhou has other nicknames such as Yangcheng (City of Rams) and Suicheng (Rice Spike City) and there is a beautiful legend which goes : long, long ago in the Zhou Dynasty, there were five celestials riding five rams with rice spikes in their mouths. The five celestials gave rice spikes to the residents of Guangzhou wishing them a bumper harvest and the banishment of famine for all time. Finally, the celestials flew away and left the five rams who immediately turned into stones. Today, the five rams sculpture at Yuexiu Park is the symbol of Guangzhou.

Guangzhou is the capital and a political, economic, and cultural center of Guangdong Province. It is located in the southeast of Guangdong Province and in the north of the Pearl River Delta. Crossed by the Tropic of Cancer, it is located between longitude 112°57' to 114°3' east and latitude 22°26' to 23°56' north, bordering on the South China Sea, adjacent to Hong Kong and Macao. It is a regional central city in South China, and China's Southern Gateway to the world.  

The topography is higher in the northeast, lower in the southwest. North and northeast are mountainous area with waters, south is an alluvial plain - the Pearl River Delta. Guangzhou enjoys a subtropical monsoon climate. There is neither intense heat in summer nor severe cold in winter. It enjoys plenty rainfall and evergreen in four seasons. The average temperature is 22.8℃, the average relative humidity is about 68%, and the annual rainfall at the urban area is over 1,600 mm.

According to rough statistics, the permanent foreign residents in Guangzhou total over 50,000, which would increase with the coming years. It has been estimated that by 2010 the number would have exceeded 200,000, which makes Guangzhou second to none among provincial capitals in terms of permanent foreign residents. Over 30,000 foreign citizens applied for visas in Guangzhou during the same year and over 20,000 for residence permits. Involving over 180 countries and regions, the temporary foreign residence registrations reached nearly 900,000, among which about 40,000 foreigners live in tenements or Chinese citizens' residences. The foreigners living in Guangzhou's tenements total up to 15,000, accounting for nearly half of the total, and foreigners living in Chinese citizens' residences exceed 8,000, accounting for 26%. The rest are self-purchased apartments or dormitories. These foreigners distribute mainly in Tianhe, Yuexiu, Panyu, Baiyun and other districts. The police stations with over 200 foreigners living within their jurisdiction total 40, among which 12 have over 500 foreigners and 6 have over 1,000 (that is, Zhongcun and Dashi of Panyu District, Linhe, Shipai and Wushan of Tianhe District, and Hongqiao of Yuexiu District.)

Since 1996, foreigners have gathered and settled down in four areas of Guangzhou. The four global villages are:

(1) The area around Huan Shi Dong Lu, including the Xiu Shan Building, Tao Jin Lu, Garden Hotel and Jian She Liu Lu. Foreigners in this area are mostly African merchants and nationals of India, working staff in consulates from Europe and Japan;

(2) the area surrounding Tian He Bei Lu, including Ti Yu Dong Lu, Tian He Lu, Long Kou Xi Lu and Lin He Zhong Lu. There are many offices of foreign organizations in the CITIC Plaza building, so foreigners in this area are mainly businessmen from Japan, America and Europe;

(3) There are also large residential districts with complete facilities in Panyu District, including the Clifford Estate, the Riverside Garden and the Star River Hotel Apartments where foreigners are mostly from countries in Southeast Asia like Japan, Thailand and Malaysia; and

(4) the area around San Yuan Li, including Jin Gui Village and Ji Chang Lu. Most of the foreigners here are businessmen from Africa and Asia who deal with treaditional costumes and shoes. Too, some Koreans have begun to gather and settle in this area.

Statistics collected show that there are, annually, over 30,000 foreign experts who have worked at short-term or long-term jobs in Guangzhou in recent years. The Guangzhou Municipal Government has established the Guangzhou Friendship Award especially to commend foreign experts who have worked in Guangzhou and made outstanding contributions to the economic construction and social development of our city.

Guangzhou has historically been China's leading commercial port. The city has a 2,000 year history of open trade. Following the implementation of the reform and opening-up policy, the economic development of Guangzhou became vigorous and has scored remarkable achievements. Since 1992, Guangzhou's overall economic strength has risen to the third position among the country's 10 largest cities. Guangzhou has become a city with relatively strong secondary industry and developed tertiary industry. According to the Comprehensive Report on 2011 Guangzhou Economic and Social Development released by the Statistics Bureau of Guangzhou Municipality, the City of Guangzhou realized regional GDP of RMB 1230.312 billion yuan, an 11 percent year-on-year increase, in 2011. Its economic aggregate ranked the third among the cities in Chinese mainland, its GDP per capita reached USD 13,000 based on the permanent residential population account, and it attained the level of moderately developed countries and regions.